March 7, 2017:   An Adventist mentoring program targeting 7,000 at-risk inner city youth is set to launch in Western Jamaica.

The program is designed to tackle the soaring crime rate in this part of the country.

It pairs young Adventist mentors with youth in the church that have been identified as showing antisocial behaviors or tendencies that can lead to a life of crime.

According to Jamaica’s The Gleaner newspaper, the program’s organizers are currently signing up mentors for the start of the program’s implementation in April.

“The youth leadership in the church has accepted the challenge and between now and the end of March are committed to finding 7,000 youth leaders in the Adventist Church and pair them up with another 7,000 youths in the church that are prone to drifting,” said the president of the denomination’s West Jamaica Conference Center, Pastor Glen Samuels.

“Between the months of April and June, each of these pairs will find one youth – on the corner, unattached, having anti-social behaviour, or falling in the cracks of life – to mentor.”

Mentors will attempt to encourage positive moral and spiritual values in their mentees.

The program will also help the selected youth to gain an education and skills with a view to helping them find employment.

Samuels challenged individual Jamaicans, as well as Jamaican businesses, to also actively mentor young people at risk.

The homicide rate in Jamaica is at its highest rate in five years. The World Bank listed Jamaica in the top five countries with the highest homicide rates worldwide.

Western Jamaica has a disproportionately high murder rate, with figures eclipsing the national average.

The Adventist Church in Jamaica could face challenges with mentoring programs focused on the young due to a number of allegations of child sexual abuse within congregations in the country.

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